Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
- For other meanings, see Aura (disambiguation).
The visual disturbance seen by about half of all migraine sufferers is also called an aura.
Some people report seeing colors associated with living beings, especially humans. This colored aura may be seen around the being or in the mind's eye (like something imagined). For example, the American psychic Edgar Cayce described having seen auras around people all his life and at first assuming that others could see them too. Some people believe that auras are a perception of energy fields that may also be sensed in other ways, perhaps biologically based electromagnetic fields (biophotonics) or the five kosa of pranic energy said to surround people according to Hindu cosmology. These people say auras reflect the spiritual and physical nature of a person (aura analysis). For example, a dark bluish to black area seen by psychics and medical intuitives surrounding the chest indicates lung cancer.
Dr. Shafica Karagula has suggested that auras are one example of the "high sense perception" of some sensitive people. Another example would be that the Swedish inventor, scientist and philosopher Emanuel Swedenborg described how at times when he was in the presence of truth he felt a certain "cheering light," "joyful confirmatory brightness," and "a kind of mysterious radiation—I know not whence it proceeds." Yet another example would be synesthesia, such as the colors seen in music by people ranging from those with little musical ability to well-loved composers. Franz Liszt, when conducting, made remarks such as, "That is a deep violet, please, depend on it! Not so rose!" and "…gentlemen, a little bluer, if you please!" (More cases are described in the article on synesthesia.) Believers might say that auras are a synesthetic perception of information obtained paranormally, while skeptics have suggested that auras may reflect only information obtained through the known senses. (See the end of the entry in "The Skeptic's Dictionary".)
In 1908, Dr. Walter J. Kilner invented a method for viewing the human aura using colored screens made of thin, flat glass cells containing dicyanin dyes in alcohol solution. Dr. Kilner worked with his medical patients at London's St. Thomas' Hospital's X-ray department, and made a breakthrough discovery that most of us can see auras when we change the focus of our eyes. Kilner's reasoning for using dicyanin coal-tar dye was that it made observers short-sighted in order to improve their ability to see the ultra-violet spectrum radiation of the human energy field. Kilner's book, "The Human Aura," received a very positive review in Scientific American magazine in March 1922.
These energy fields are sometimes claimed to be documented by a rare form of photography called Kirlian photography. However, these claims are vigorously denied by skeptics about paranormal activity. James Randi, for example, has for many years (as of 2004)—as part of an effective self-promoting publicity stunt—offered one million US dollars to any person capable of repeatedly detecting auras, and no person has ever stepped forward to successfully claim the prize (though at least one has tried and failed). The task would involve the aura reader to stand on one side of a room with an opaque partition separating them from a number of slots which may contain either actual people or mannequins. All that would have to be done is that the aura reader would have to consistently be able to tell which were real people and which were not. As no one has completed this in Randi's controlled environment, it is not known whether or not Randi would actually pay up if it was accomplished.
Figuratively, an aura refers to the character of concepts/issues/phenomena surrounding a particular topic. eg: "The discussion had an aura of casualness".
The Marxist cultural critic Walter Benjamin also used the term "aura" to refer to the feeling of awe created by unique or remarkable objects such as works of art or relics of the past. According to Benjamin older cultures can generate auras around particular objects of veneration, while capitalist culture has the opposite effect, causing the decay of the aura due to the proliferation of mass-production and reproduction technologies.
- Cayce, Edgar, Auras, ARE Press, 2002, ISBN 0876040121.
- Kilner, Walter J., The Human Aura, Citadel Press, 1965, ISBN 0806505451.
- Krippner, Stanley and Rubin, Daniel, The Kirlian Aura: Photographing the Galaxies of Life, Anchor Press/Doubleday, 1974, ISBN 0385065744.
- Larson, Cynthia Sue, Aura Advantage, Adams Media, 2004, ISBN 1580629458.
- Leadbeater, C.W., The Chakras, Theosophical Publishing House, 1987, ISBN 0835604225.
- The Amazing Randi web site
- Auras in the "Skeptic's dictionary"
- Kirlian Photography in the "Skeptic's Dictionary"
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